EEOC Strategic Enforcement Strategies

by Anne Zachritz

Currently, the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan focuses on the following priorities:

  1. Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring;

  2. Protecting immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers;

  3. Addressing emerging and developing employment discrimination issues;

  4. Enforcing equal pay laws;

  5. Preserving access to the legal system; and

  6. Preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach.

The EEOC recently released a new Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021. Under the new Strategic Enforcement Plan, the EEOC will focus on the following areas:

  1. Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring;

  2. Protecting vulnerable workers, including immigrant and migrant workers, and underserved communities from discrimination;

  3. Addressing emerging and developing issues;

  4. Ensuring equal pay protections for all workers;

  5. Preserving access to the legal system; and

  6. Preventing systemic harassment.

In the EEOC’s press release regarding its new Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021, the EEOC specifically addressed the addition of two areas to the “emerging issues” priority:

  1. Issues related to “complex employment relationships” in the 21st century workplace; and

  2. “Backlash discrimination” against those who are Muslim or Sikh, or persons of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descents, as well as persons perceived to be member of these groups, as tragic events in the United States and abroad have increased the likelihood of discrimination against these communities.

“Emerging issues” priority number 2 is fairly self-explanatory and arises from the recent terrorist attacks in Orlando and San Bernardino. But what about the “complex employment relationships in the 21st century”? What does this mean? The focus here will be on the use of temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractors and the on-demand economy. This focus dovetails with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Misclassification Initiative, further enhancing the need for employers to avoid misclassifying employees as independent contractors.


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